How Award-Winning Excelerate Labs Became TechStars Chicago

Troy Henikoff began his entrepreneurship class at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management with an announcement. He told his students that Excelerate Labs — the Chicago-based accelerator that he and co-founder Sam Yagan had established, nurtured, and brought to national prominence, now had a new name.

Excelerate Labs, which, in 2012, was dubbed with the distinction of #3 startup incubator by Forbes Magazine, had now become TechStars Chicago — the fifth, and newest member, of an entrepreneurship program for startup companies called TechStars, which was branded as “the number one startup accelerator in the world.”

Henikoff recalls the 2009 dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Boulder, Colorado, where the inspiration for Excelerate Labs was first born, how that program seamlessly fit into the model of TechStars, and what the first batch of 10 startup companies should expect under the TechStars banner. ❒

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